Moon Landing Oreos

Once the commemorative Moon Landing Oreos hit the markets, John King Tarpinian not only took a photo of a package in his local Target store (published here last week), he bought it and gifted it to me when we met for lunch a few days later.

They tasted lovely. The lavender-colored marshmallow filling not only differs in color from standard Oreos (which is white), the texture is slightly more of a gel than normal. (I can imagine orbiting astronauts squeezing it from a tube.) Despite the color, the flavor wasn’t floral or exotic — if not quite the same as usual, the filling didn’t taste very different. The result was a much more pleasing Oreo cookie than the peanut-candy-flavored experiment they temporarily marketed not long ago, which I also tried.

Those of a certain age, like I am, grew up watching TV commercials that demonstrated the infinite techniques for eating Oreos, of which the most important is unscrewing the cookie and eating the filling first.

But fans overthrew this indoctrination at the 1987 Worldcon in England when the Chicago in ’91 Worldcon bidders ran a party with a milk-and-cookies theme. As reported in File 770 #70:

[At the Chicago in ’91 party] those who stayed were fascinated by the Oreos; they kept asking about “the black cookies” and how to eat them. Straight-faced Chicagoans told them you must carefully unscrew the Oreo, eat the white filling, and throw the black cookies away. So they did. Others were coached to methodically time the dunking of their Oreos in milk. Two of the most enthusiastic Oreo-eaters were “the happy Slav brothers,” one fan term for the Yugoslavian Worldcon bidders, whom [Ross Pavlac] claimed decided not to run against Chicago in ’91 because they liked the Oreo party.

Like Chicago radio personality Paul Harvey used to say: “And now you know…the rest of the story.”

2019 Australian Fairy Tale Society Award

Dr. Robyn Floyd is the winner of the Australian Fairy Tale Society’s Annual Award for Inspiration and Contribution to Australian Fairy Tale Culture.

The prize acknowledges contributions to the fairy-tale field in Australia. Robyn is an expert on Australian fairy tales, exploring the history and impact of their publication, with her PhD thesis and blog, Early Australian Fairy Tales“Early Australian fairy tales” 

She’s served on the organization’s Committee, frequently contributed to its Ezine, and presented seminars. 

Below is the Award’s frog sculpture created by Spike Deane, a fairy tale artist at Canberra Glassworks.

Mythcon 50 Author Guest of Honor Changes

Tim Powers

Tim Powers has agreed to step in as Mythcon 50’s GOH Emeritus. John Crowley, scheduled to be the Author Guest of Honor, had to cancel his appearance for personal reasons.

Tim Powers, a science-fiction and fantasy writer who arguably is heir to the legacy of Charles Williams, has been Author GOH at Mythcon twice; in Berkeley at Mythcon 26 and at Mythcon 41 in Dallas, Texas. Powers has won three World Fantasy Awards, for his novels Last Call (1992) and Declare (2000), and his story collection The Bible Repairman and Other Stories (2012). He is a five-time nominee for the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award, winning in 1990 for The Stress of Her Regard.

For more information, click on 50th Mythopoeic Conference in San Diego, California, August 2-5, 2019.

2019 Robert E. Howard Foundation Awards

The winners of the REH Foundation Awards, honoring the top contributions in Howard scholarship and in the promotion of Howard’s life and works from the past year, were announced at Robert E. Howard Days in Cross Plains on June 8.

The Atlantean — Outstanding Achievement, Book (non-anthology/collection)

(Books may be print or digital, must be a minimum of 50,000 words, and must be substantively devoted to the life and/or work of REH. Reprinted works without significant revisions are not eligible.)

  • DAVID C. SMITH – Robert E. Howard: A Literary Biography (Pulp Hero Press) – LINK

The Hyrkanian—Outstanding Achievement, Essay (Print)

(Essays must have made their first public published appearance in the previous calendar year and be substantive scholarly essays on the life and/or work of REH. Short pieces, interviews, reviews, trip reports, and other minor works do not count.)

  • RICK LAI – “Poseidon and the Gods of the Robert E. Howard Universe” – Blood ‘n’ Thunder Presents #4: Pulpourri – LINK

The Cimmerian—Outstanding Achievement, Essay (Online)

(Essays must have made their first public published appearance in the previous calendar year and be substantive scholarly essays on the life and/or work of REH. Short blog posts, speeches, reviews, trip reports, and other minor works do not count.)

  • DEUCE RICHARDSON – “Stephen Fabian and Robert E. Howard (3 Parts)” – DMR Books Blog – LINK– LINK – LINK

The Venarium — Emerging Scholar

(The following candidates have recently begun making significant contributions to Howard scholarship through publications and/or presentations over the past few years. Previous winners are not eligible)

  • BOB BYRNE – Contributed essays for Black Gate

The Stygian—Outstanding Achievement, Website or Periodical

(Eligible candidates are limited to print or digital magazines, journals, blogs, or internet sites with substantive material that is primarily devoted to scholarship on the life and works of Robert E. Howard. Websites must have been updated with new content at least once in the previous calendar year. Print periodicals must have had an issue published in the previous calendar year. Non-static social media like Facebook and Twitter would not be eligible.)


  • ON AN UNDERWOOD NO. 5 (Todd Vick) – LINK

The Black Lotus – Outstanding Achievement, Multimedia

(Eligible candidates have produced a multimedia or audio/visual work or series of works, such as videos, documentaries, podcasts, animation, etc. related to the life and work of REH)

  • THE CROMCAST (audio podcast) – Josh Adkins, Luke Dodd, and Jon Larson – LINK

The Black River—Special Achievement

(The following eligible candidates have produced or contributed something special that doesn’t fit into any other category: scholarly presentations, biographical discoveries, etc.)


The Rankin — Artistic achievement in the depiction of REH’s life and/or work

(Art must have made its first public published appearance in the previous calendar year.)

  • TOM GRINDBERG – Cover art for Conan the Pirate sourcebook for Conan RPG (Modiphius) – Depicts “Queen of the Black Coast”– LINK

Black Circle Award – Lifetime Achievement

(Individuals who have made significant and long-lasting contributions to REH scholarship, publishing, or the promotion of Howard’s life and works. Eligible candidates must have been publicly involved in Howard-related activities for a minimum of two decades.)

  • [No Award] As a 60% majority vote was not achieved for any candidate, there is no Black Circle Award winner this year.

Crom Award (Board of Directors Award)

(The Crom Award is a special recognition given very infrequently by the REH Foundation Board of Directors.)

  • PROJECT PRIDE – For over three decades of interpreting and promoting the life and work of Robert E. Howard through the REH House and Museum.

UK Games Expo Awards 2019 Finalists

The UK Games Expo Awards 2019 shortlist was released May 14.

The winners will be announced June 2.

Best Abstract Game

  • Dragon Castle (Horrible Games)
  • Azul (Plan B Games)
  • Bad Bones (Sit Down!)

Best Childrens Game

  • Zombie Kidz Evolution (Scorpion Masque)
  • Who Did It? (Blue Orange Games)
  • Schneck di-wupp! (HABA)

Best Family Game

  • Ticket to Ride: New York (Days of Wonder)
  • Honga (HABA)
  • The Tea Dragon Society Card Game (Renegade Game Studios)

Best Miniature Range

  • Battlestar Galactica Starship Battles – Spaceship Packs (Ares Games)
  • Wildlands: The Adventuring Party (Osprey Games)
  • Frostgrave: Frostgrave Wizards (North Star Military Figures & Osprey Games)

Best Miniature Rules

  • Battlestar Galactica Starship Battles – Starter Set (Ares Games)
  • Ragnarok: Heavy Metal Combat in the Viking Age (Osprey Games)
  • Rebels and Patriots: Wargaming Rules for North America (Osprey Games)

Best New Accessory

  • Giant Book of Battle Mats (Loke BattleMats)
  • Dropfleet Commander Dreadnoughts (Troll Trader)
  • Big Book of Sci-Fi Battle Mats (Loke BattleMats (exhibiting as GamingBooks))

Best New Boardgame (American-Style)

  • Forbidden Sky (Gamewright)
  • Chronicles of Crime (LUCKY DUCK GAMES)
  • Arkham Horror Third Edition (Fantasy Flight games)

Best New Boardgame (Euro-Style)

  • Quacks of Quedlinburg (Schmidt Spiele)
  • Space Gate Odyssey (Ludonaute)
  • Architects of the West Kingdom (Renegade Game Studios)

Best New Boardgame (Strategic)

  • Root: A Game of Woodland Might & Right (Leder Games)
  • Warhammer Quest: Blackstone Fortress (Games Workshop)
  • Victorian Masterminds (CMON)

Best New Card Game (General)

  • The Mind (Coiledspring Games)
  • Monsters vs Heroes – Victorian Nightmares (Ares Games)
  • Unlock 3! Secret Adventures (Space Cowboys)

Best New Card Game (Strategic)

  • Ruthless (Alley Cat Games Ltd)
  • Tetris Speed (John Adams Leisure Ltd)
  • Arboretum (Renegade Game Studios)

Best New Dice Game

  • Ganz Schon Clever (Schmidt Spiele)
  • Roll for Adventure (Kosmos)
  • Dice Hospital (Alley Cat Games Ltd)

Best Party Game

  • Decrypto (Scorpion Masque)
  • Maki Stack (Blue Orange Games)
  • 20 Second Showdown (Big Potato Games)

Best Role-playing Adventure

  • Petersen’s Abominations (Chaosium)
  • The Cthulhu Hack: Valkyrie Nine (All Rolled Up)
  • The Laughter of Dragons for The One Ring (Cubicle 7)

Best Role-playing Expansion

  • Star Trek Adventures – The Command Division Supplemental Rulebook (Modiphius Entertainment)
  • 13th Age Glorantha (Chaosium)
  • Adventures in Middle-earth Bree-land Region Guide (Cubicle 7 games)

Best Role-playing Game

  • RuneQuest – Roleplaying in Glorantha (Chaosium)
  • The Black Hack 2nd Edition (Squarehex)
  • Forbidden Lands (Free League Publishing)

2019 Darrell Awards

The winners of the Darrell Awards for 2019 were announced at Midsouthcon in Memphis on March 16.

The annual Darrell Awards support Midsouth Literacy by recognizing the best published Science Fiction, Fantasy and/or Horror in Short Story, Novella, Novel, Young Adult & Other Media formats. This year’s winners are:

Best Midsouth Novel

  • Frank Tuttle — Every Wind of Change

First runner-up:

  • John E. Siers  — In the Service of Luna

Best Midsouth Novella

  • Kevin Andrew Murphy – Find the Lady (appearing in Mississippi Roll, a Wild Cards shared-world novel)

First runner-up

  • William Alan Webb – The Hairy Man (set in his post-apocalypse series)

Best Midsouth Short Story 

  • Frank Tuttle — “Knob Hill Haunt” (a free-standing Mama Hogg story in the Markhat universe)

First runner-up:

  • Lee Ann Story — “Family Circle” (appearing in End of the World Potluck)

Second runner-up

  • Sheree Renee Thomas — “Teddy Bump” (appearing in Fiyah Lit Mag, issue 7)

Best Midsouth Other Media 

  • Mark Powers — Dog Men (the first 6 issues in this comic book series set in Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files universe)

First runner-up

  • Matthew Maala — Amazing Grace (Season 3, Episode 14, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow tv series)

The Darrell Awards are named in honor of the memory of Dr. Darrell C. Richardson, who was instrumental in getting the Memphis SF Association off the ground.

The related Dal Coger Memorial Hall of Fame Award is given to an author who has made exceptional contributions to Midsouth Literacy by having published a substantial body of work that is or would have been eligible for the Darrell Award. The winner was announced in January.

Dal Coger Memorial Hall of Fame Award

  • Troy L. Wiggins

chosen for his outstanding contributions to Midsouth literacy, both as a writer of SF/F/H short stories and for his role in founding Fiyah Lit Mag, a relatively-new SF/F/H magazine (now in its third year).

[Via Locus Online.]

2018 Cybils Awards

The 2018 Cybils winners (Children’s and Young Adults Bloggers’ Literary Awards) were announced on February 14.

The Cybils Awards aims to recognize the children’s and young adult authors and illustrators whose books combine the highest literary merit and popular appeal. If some la-di-dah awards can be compared to brussels sprouts, and other, more populist ones to gummy bears, we’re thinking more like organic chicken nuggets. We’re yummy and nutritious.

Here are the results from the speculative fiction categories.

Elementary/Middle Grade Graphic Novels

The Witch Boy
by Molly Knox Ostertag

Aster, a thirteen-year-old boy living in a secluded community with strict magical rules, longs to learn practices that are forbidden to boys. Rich, believable characters support this appealing tale of breaking free from traditional gender roles. Ostertag has created a fully-realized magical world that will leave middle-grade and teen readers clamoring for more.

Elementary/Middle Grade Speculative Fiction

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow
by Jessica Townsend
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: Beth Mitchell

Morrigan has grown up believing she is cursed. Then, on her eleventh birthday, her luck changes when she’s whisked off to the magical city of Nevermoor, and invited to compete to be a member of the Wundrous society.   Readers will assume she makes it through the trials, but Morrigan’s low self-esteem means she herself is doubtful, and so it’s not just her external triumph that makes readers cheer for her.  Thought the good vs. evil plot might seem familiar, there are plent of unique twists.  The zany world of Nevermoor is wildly original, and the characters are vivid and three-dimensional. Fantasy-loving kids will be hooked by this memorable, magical story, and want the next book right away!

Young Adult Speculative Fiction

Tess of the Road
by Rachel Hartman
Random House Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: Caitlin

In Tess of the Road, author Rachel Hartman masterfully employs the classic fantasy quest format as a metaphor for Tess’s emotional journey towards healing and self-acceptance. The ‘road novel’ is a familiar trope, but Tess’s journey is full of unexpected bends in the road: difficult family relationships, guilt over past mistakes, trouble accepting help from others.

As an epic fantasy, it’s easy to expect stakes that are larger than life: good vs. evil, the fate of the universe. Where Tess is different is that she wrestles with struggles we all face daily–including how to push through other people’s ideas about you to get to the heart of who you really are. She’s a relatable main character, and readers will find themselves rooting for her to overcome her flaws.

This novel is action-packed, yet also richly layered. It has humor and suspense as well as depth and subtlety, as Tess sorts through complex issues that will resonate with readers and engage them in her quest for self-understanding and self-acceptance.

 [Via Locus Online.]

Stan and Ollie: A Review

By Steve Vertlieb: Stan And Ollie is truly one of the loveliest films that it has been my privilege to see in years. This sweet, gentle portrait of the screen’s indisputably greatest comedy team is often hilarious, yet heartbreaking in its unflinching portrait of two incandescent souls who lit up motion picture theaters with their impeccable artistry. John C. Reilly is astonishing as Oliver Hardy, known affectionately as “Babe” to those closest to him. His transformation and performance are deeply touching, focusing on the portly actor’s frailty, gambling addiction, and quiet dignity as the years begin to evaporate his strength and vitality. This is clearly the performance of his career. Steve Coogan as Stan Laurel, the creative force behind the team’s hilarity and success, is gently brilliant in his depiction of a comedic genius struggling to keep the team alive as their gradual descent from fame and from youth has begun taking its inevitable toll.

Their respective wives are their seeming opposites. Ida Kitaeva Laurel (Nina Arianda) is a shrill, domineering woman whose physical stature and brash personality loudly overshadow her outwardly meek husband. Lucille Hardy (Shirley Henderson) is closer to Stan in demeanor, yet married to the gregarious “Babe” Hardy. Dedicated to preserving her beloved husband’s failing health and happiness, Lucille is the anchor who must rescue Ollie from his own excesses. Ida and Lucille are as different as Stan and Ollie, providing a striking, if bizarre, reflection and mirror image of their respective spouse’s personalities. Danny Huston in another of his menacing performances as Hal Roach, and Rufus Jones as the ruthless promoter who imports the boys to England in the latter years of their careers are, perhaps, symbolic of the crass tastes of a fickle public who have, in so cavalier a fashion, discarded the once beloved comedy team to the ash heap of fame and fortune.

Jeff Pope’s deeply melancholy screenplay, based upon Laurel and Hardy: The British Tours by A.J. Marriot, begins with the duo’s career high as they battle for release from their contract with Hal Roach, then effortlessly segues into their declining years as entertainers when the world and their once loyal fans have all but forgotten them. Laurel, who wrote all of the team’s classic comedy dialogue and routines, brings his ailing partner to England to revive their popularity with a proposed new film based upon the legend of Robin Hood. Sadly, the film never materialized, but a dream sequence in which Stan and Ollie re-create the first meeting of Robin and Friar Tuck is genuinely hilarious.

Rolfe Kent’s musical score brings sweet clarity to the failed dreams and quiet frustration, endured proudly by the embattled, fallen comic warriors, while Laurie Rose’s muted colors and cinematography lend historical accuracy to a bleak, heart aching descent from fame, popularity, and grace.

Directed with affection, and dignity by Jon S. Baird, this Sony Classics release is a tender, sweetly compassionate look at the greatest comedy team in motion picture history … after the adulation and parade had passed them by. Their growing sadness as the reality of age, health, and sad obscurity conspires to consume their devotion to one another ultimately masks a consummate love story that these gentle souls shared. Stan And Ollie is, at its considerable heart, a love story … a fragile take on the rigors and aftermath of fame, and the ultimate redemption of two beautiful human souls whose lasting dignity, respect, and affection for one another comprised the artistry, charm and enduring magic that was … and is … Stan And Ollie.

SFF Stamps of 2018

The US Postal Service put out a bumper crop of stamps of interest to fans in 2018. Here’s a roundup:

“Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!”

For nearly 50 years, this call has summoned the beloved animated Great Dane wherever help is needed.

Here’s Scooby-Doo!—brought to you by the U.S. Postal Service®. This Forever® stamp issuance highlights the popular canine sleuth and his new Scooby-Doo DOO GOOD Campaign. (Issued 7/14/2018.)

In 2018, the U.S. Postal Service celebrates dragons, the high-flying, fire-breathing mythological creatures that have roamed our imaginations for millennia. (Issued 8/9/2018)

The U.S. Postal Service celebrates magic, an art form that has entertained America for centuries. This sheet of 20 stamps features digital illustrations of five classic illusions: a rabbit in a top hat (production), a fortune teller using a crystal ball (prediction), a woman floating in the air (levitation), an empty bird cage (vanishing), and a bird emerging from a flower (transformation). (Issued 8/7/2018)

America’s first woman in space, Dr. Sally Ride (1951-2012), inspired the nation as a pioneering astronaut, brilliant physicist, and dedicated educator. (Stamp issued 5/23/2018)

Designed to pique the curiosity of the viewer, each stamp features a collage of face, symbols, drawings, and numbers that represent the complexity and interconnectedness of the STEM disciplines. (Issued 4/6/2018)

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian and John Hertz for the story.]

Review: Stan & Ollie

By John King Tarpinian: Loved the movie. Within ten minutes I stopped seeing the actors playing Stan & Ollie and just saw Stan & Ollie. Their last performances were in Ireland, taking place in 1953. That is when Ray Bradbury saw them perform on the stage.

For me, the only distraction was that the actress who played Oliver Hardy’s wife also played Moaning Myrtle in Harry Potter.  She could have altered her voice in some way because it stuck out like a sore thumb.

According to the Bradbury scholar, Phil Nichols, who received his PhD on Ray’s films, “…some scenes were shot just a couple of miles from where I live. Remember the inn they arrive at (the first hotel they check into)? That’s part of the ‘Black Country Living Museum’, just down the road from here. There was also a montage sequence showing an old trolleybus, a fish & chip shop, and some rows of shops – all of these are in the Museum. I think they filmed there for a couple of days.”

By no coincidence, my favorite Ray Bradbury short story is “The Laurel and Hardy Love Affair”. (Found in the Toynbee Convector anthology) Ray has written other stories involving the boys, as ghosts and also in outer space.